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Finnish NGO debuts new symbol for gender-neutral bathrooms

A Finnish NGO has launched a new gender-neutral symbol for use on bathroom doors. The organisation says the symbol is meant to indicate that people who identify as either male or female or neither can feel free to use the amenities.

Sukupuolineutraali wc sai oman merkkinsä viime vuoden kesäkuussa. Image: Pekka Piippo / Hahmo

According to the NGO Culture for All, the new symbol is designed to take gender diversity into account. The organisation said that the symbol is meant for use in areas such as washrooms and dressing rooms and to make it easier for people with different gender identities to use such amenities.

The symbol was designed by Pekka Piippo and can be downloaded from the organisation’s website for free.

The graphic was originally intended for use on the premises of the Arts Promotion Space. The idea was that it would serve everyone and account for gender diversity. Designer Pekka Piippo collaborated with the Finnish LGBT rights organisation Seta to create the all-inclusive icon.

"According to the Seta working group, this symbol takes account of both the two main gender identities, the more fluid definitions between them, people who have undergone gender re-assignment procedures and people who define themselves as genderless," Piippo said.

Culture for All is encouraging individuals and organisations in the arts and culture sector to use the signage on the bathrooms and dressing rooms they provide for staff and customers. The NGO pointed out that the traditional male-female distinction does not serve people whose gender identity or gender expression is not explicitly male or female.

The group is hoping to apply the same thinking to facilities for disabled persons, as their assistants may be different genders.

According to Piippo the "WC" abbreviation isn’t necessarily useful, since if people of a different gender are seen leaving a bathroom, the person waiting in line may be uncertain about whom it is meant for. "Good signage gives people confidence that they are doing the right thing," he added.

Culture for All aims to promote cultural services that are open and accessible to as diverse an audience as possible.

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